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Information relating to the formation of blood clots

Thrombosis can have dangerous consequences. One of the rare, but life-threatening complications of thrombosis is a pulmonary embolism. That’s why it is so important to detect thrombosis as early as possible and seek medical assistance immediately. Find all the useful information about thrombosis here: from symptoms and causes to treatment methods and preventative measures.

What is thrombosis?

Thrombosis refers to a blood clot, also known as a thrombus, which constricts or entirely blocks a blood vessel. In principle, these thromboses can affect all blood vessels as well as the heart, and occur both in arteries as well as in the veins. However, the veins in the leg are most frequently affected. A distinction is made there between the two common forms, superficial vein thrombosis (SVT) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Signs and symptoms of thrombosis

Pain, skin changes and build-up of heat are some of the general indications of thrombosis. Taking a closer look, however, superficial and deep vein thromboses have different symptoms:

Symptoms of superficial vein thrombosis (SVT)

Symptoms of superficial vein thrombosis

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)              

Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis

Complications of thrombosis  

It is essential to treat thrombosis in order to prevent life-threatening or permanent consequences. In more than 90% of pulmonary embolism cases, a blood clot (thrombus) is the cause of blockage. Apart from a pulmonary embolism, possible complications include sepsis and post-thrombotic syndrome, in which lasting damage to the venous valves results in chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

What is a pulmonary embolism?

In a pulmonary embolism, a pulmonary artery is partly or fully blocked by a solid body that has been carried along, generally a blood clot. As a result, the lung has difficulty taking in oxygen, which can lead to life-threatening situations. Further complications include pulmonary infarction, infection of the pleura, arrythmias or heart failure due to the increased strain on the right side of the heart. This is why emergency services should be called immediately if there is suspicion of a pulmonary embolism.  

If a pulmonary embolism is triggered by a blood clot, this is also referred to as a thromboembolism. Much rarer conditions include septic embolisms, fat embolisms, air embolisms or tumour embolisms.

Signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism

The following warning signs can indicate a pulmonary embolism:  

  • Shortness of breath
  • Accelerated breathing
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Profuse sweating
  • Feeling of dizziness and circulation problems

Causes and risk factors for thrombosis

An excessively low blood flow speed, damages and changes to the vascular wells or a tendency of excessive blood clotting are the three main causes for the formation of thrombosis. These are favoured by different risk factors:

How can thrombosis be prevented?

A tendency to thrombosis cannot generally be reversed. However, it is possible to positively impact the unobstructed flow of blood, the elasticity of the venous walls and the fluid content of the blood.

Measures to prevent thrombosis:  

  • Preventative wearing of compression stockings
  • Lots of movement (ideally regular endurance sport such as swimming, walking etc.)
  • Drinking enough liquids (ideally water and fruit or herbal teas without sugar)
  • A healthy diet
  • Avoiding obesity
  • Reducing nicotine consumption
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding long periods of sitting and standing
  • Hot/cold contrast showers

Treatment of thrombosis

Vein with compression


In cases of acute thrombosis, as an immediate measure, patients are given an anticoagulant medication as an injection or infusion. If the blood clot does not need to be removed immediately, thrombosis treatment is continued by the patient during outpatient care. To this end, anticoagulant pills are taken for the following 3 to 6 months to gradually dissolve the blood clot that has formed. Patients have an increased risk of bleeding when taking anticoagulant medications.  

While medication-based treatment helps to dissolve the clot, compression therapy and potentially movement therapy contribute to reducing venous congestion. 

How compression stockings assist with thrombosis treatment  

Compression therapy is an important component in the treatment of thrombosis. It can contribute to faster lessening of symptoms more quickly, since it helps to release venous blood congestion and can therefore provide relief for swelling, feelings of heaviness and pain in the legs. By exerting pressure from the outside, compression garments promote the outflow of blood in the direction of the heart.  

This also lowers the blood pressure in the venous system. In addition, compression promotes the blood flow rate and thereby reduces the risk of further blood clot formation. 

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